By Victor O'Brien

Killeen Daily Herald

A small order in the Bell County Commissioners Court agenda Tuesday signaled the arrival of a big change for Bell County courts.

The county clerk's office will move into its new offices the week of June 21. County Clerk Shelley Coston and her staff departs the current facility, 550 E. Second St., in downtown Belton.

"We're in a cramped temporary facility. Temporary has been for the last 12 years," Coston said Tuesday. "We're very excited about the place we're going to have for the public to access our records."

As part of the move, the Commissioners Court designated the new location at the Bell County Justice Complex, 1201 Huey Drive, as the site for future trustee sales beginning Aug. 3. Texas property code mandates that the change be posted.

The new clerk's office sits in a wing connected to the sprawling complex along Loop 121. The office is the third and final phase of a project to consolidate county offices and courts into what Precinct 4 County Commissioner John Fisher calls a "one-stop judicial center."

The new wing houses the county clerk's office, the county courts at law and the county attorney's office. The offices add more space, especially for records.

Having all court records in a central location is expected to add convenience and expedite legal processes.

In recent months, District Clerk Sheila Norman's staff sent many customers seeking vital records from the complex to the county clerk's office in downtown Belton. Once under the same roof, those records will be just a few doors down from the district clerk's office.

Officials projected the final phase to cost $21.5 million in 2009. The first two phases included the already complete jail and courthouse. Though the building opens June 28, a grand opening is not expected until at least a month later, Coston said.

During the weeklong move beginning June 21, the courts will close, with a few exceptions. The closure includes the elections office and county courts at law. Daily transactions and mail will continue at the downtown Belton location. Electronic records will not be available. Any vital statistics requests will be redirected to satellite offices around Bell County.

"It'll be a convenient savings for anyone in Bell County who has anything to do with the court's system," Fisher said.

Contact Victor O'Brien at or (254) 501-7468.

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